Friday, June 2, 2017


2017 WERS Hall of Fame inductees are, clockwise,
from top left: Debra Daigle, MA '83, Roger Lifeset '67,
Dave Thomson '69, and Linda Coombs '77.

Boston’s Emerson College loves its graduates and recognizes their good work. 

This weekend, as part of the College’s Alumni Weekend, four pros will be inducted into the WERS Hall of Fame. 

The ceremony will take place Saturday, June 3, 3:00–4:30 pm, in the Semel Theater. 

Information is available here.

2017 inductees include leaders in radio, news and music industries:

ROGER LIFESET (Emerson Class of 1967) is founder and president of Peer Pressure Promotions. In the late 960s an early 970s Lifeset was involved in the Boston music scene and influential progressive rock station WBCN.

Lifeset (2nd from left) backstage at a Captain Beefheart show in 1970

Lifeset moved into full-time artist and record promotions. He worked for Warner Brothers, ABC Dunhill and Universal Records. Lifeset played important roles in the success of the J. Geils’ Band, Modern Lovers, Bruce Springsteen, The Cars, Boston, Aerosmith and Alice Cooper.

In the late 1970s, Lifeset left the corporate world and founded Peer Pressure Promotions, a thriving independent music promotion company based in Agoura Hills, California.

DAVE THOMPSON (Emerson Class of 1969) began his career in radio at WERS forerunner WECB. Over the next for decades Thompson was an announcer for stations in New York (WXLO 99X), Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, Baltimore, and Sacramento. He is also an Emerson College Trustee.

LINDA COOMBS (Emerson Class of 1977) is operations manager of CBS Radio News in New York. In her radio news career she has produced breaking news, coordinated special events, and work at the assignment desk. Before joining CBS in the mid 1980s, Coombs was a news reporter for RKO Radio Networks.

DEBRA DAIGLE (Emerson Class of 1983) is currently associate director of media relations at Wellesley College. For many years, Daigle was a reporter, producer and All Things Considered at WGBH.  She also was the Capitol Hill correspondent for Unistar Radio Network in the late 2980s.

Other members of the WERS Hall of Fame you might know include WGBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu; Dean Cappello, Executive VP and Chief Content Officer at WNYC/New York Public Radio; Jacquie Gales Webb, radio project manager at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; and communications attorney Howard Liberman.


Sally Kane, CEO of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB), moved me deeply with her commentary distributed Thursday (6/1). Sally decided she need a “radio home” where she lives in Denver.  So, she adopted a station. I wish I could do what Sally has down and perhaps you will feel that way too. Here is what she wrote:

In March I moved the NFCB office from a room in my house to space inside Denver’s community Jazz station jewel, KUVO.

After three years of service on behalf of member stations around the country, I simply felt too alone to carry the message anymore. I missed my beloved home station KVNF. I needed to experience community media, not just talk about it. Within days I felt the pull on my heart's strings return.

[I love] The sound of high school Jazz band members laughing over pizza and excited to play music together in the studio, the friendly conversation of staffers' grandchildren – all of these interludes drove the message back home to me yet again….when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.

Thank you, Sally. BTW – NCFB’s annual Community Media Conference is being held July 17 – 19.  More information is here.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


Image courtesy of KXAN-TV
About 10 miles southwest of Austin, the Cypress Creek Café used to be the home of low-power KOWO 104.1 FM. 

All of that changed on Monday (5/29) when a fire destroyed the historic café and KOWO’s office and equipment.

According to local news reports, investigators say the fire started around 2am in the kitchen of the Cypress Creek Cafe and adjoining Buzzard Bar. 

The fire started in the kitchen but the exact cause is not known. The building is a total loss. No one was injured in the fire. However, two cats and one dog are missing.

Winberley Texan Radio, the licensee of KOWO, has requested temporary authority to be off the air until further notice. 

KOWO is one of several small Austin-area noncoms that repeat programming from roots rock Sun Radio.  Sun has established a fundraising campaign to get KOWO back on the air, according to this post on the Sun Radio website [link]:
Sun Radio is devastated to hear about Cypress Creek Cafe this morning… Randy & Trish of Cypress Creek Cafe have been beyond supportive of our station going all the way back to our inception.

Our Wimberley affiliate, KOWO 104.1FM, is currently off the air with their antenna/signal originating from Cypress Creek Café. All of their equipment was damaged by the fire. Sun Radio will keep everyone up to date with the condition of Cypress Creek Cafe as well as when our affiliate KOWO 104.1FM will be back on the air.


Newslink, one of the first public media online bulletin boards is gone as of the end of May. For many years Newslink was the place for public radio journalists to find job openings and chatter about newsroom issues. It was established in the mid 1990s by Nancy Fushan of Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) on behalf of the Public Radio News Directors (PRNDI).

After Fushan left MPR, Euan Kerr
became Newslink’s moderator. Kerr posted the news on Newslink last week:

Euan Kerr
It is with a mixture of sadness and relief that I write to let you know Newslink will ride off into the digital sunset at the end of this month.
For the last few years the MPR IT folks have dropped by every once in a while to ask whether it is still being used, and I have always said yes. This last time, when I learned we would have to move servers, with a certain amount of hassle, and seeing the very low traffic on the site, I realize it makes sense to shut up shop.

Newslink was set up under the auspices of PRNDI a good 20 years ago, maybe longer, by Nancy Fushan and others as a way of facilitating discussion between Public Radio news people without the overwhelming background noise on some of the PubRadio list servs. I think its been useful, having heard about people who have found advice, and occasionally jobs in its missives.

I'd like to thank everyone who has been involved, and I hope our paths cross in the real world sooner rather than later. All the best, and keep up the good and important work you all do! Euan Kerr

KEN SAYS: Thank you Euan and the folks at MPR for providing this valuable communication link.  Public radio is better today because of your efforts.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


WXPN is the “host with the most,” as they used to say. 

The Philadelphia station serves it’s the fans with the most urgent artists and music, the most diversity, the most exciting new artists and absolutely the most fun.

The XPoNential Music Festival at night in 2016
In May, WXPN and World Café Live were the hosts for 17th annual NON-COMMvention (see story below). Now attention turns to The XPoNential Music Festival, Friday (7/28), Saturday (7/29) and Sunday (7/30) at Wiggins Park and the adjacent BB&T Pavilion, just across the river from Philly in Camden, New Jersey.

The XPoNential Music Festival has become WXPN’s signature annual concert. Now in its 13th year, the festival draws folks from throughout the Philadelphia metro, Mid-Atlantic region, and Northeastern US. The lead corporate sponsor for The XPoNential Music Festival is Subaru. Complete information about The XPoNential Music Festival is available here.

(images courtesy WXPN)
The complete announced line-up for all three days is on the right.

Featured artists on Friday (7/28) include WIlco, Conor Oberst and Offa Rex, a mashup of The Decemberists and Olivia Haney.

On Saturday (7/29) the headliners will be Amos Lee & Friends featuring the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Spoon (my favorite) and Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires.

Sunday (7/30) see and hear the Drive By Truckers, The Dream Syndicate and a rare appearance by folk/bluegrass icon David Bromberg.


PERSONAL NOTE: I wish I could have been at the NON-COMM this year. Several friends sent notes asking about my situation.  I deeply appreciate their concern.  The truth is my vision continues to decline, making travel difficult. I am fighting the good fight to keep hope alive.  I consider the folks at the NON-COMM to be my brothers and sisters and I hope I can attend in the future.

Jim McGuinn (left) and John Barth (images courtesy WXPN)
There is ample praise for the music lineup at this year’s NON-COMM in the music press and elsewhere, but the information exchanged was also important. 

At a panel session on Thursday (5/19) – Public Radio Stations in the Digital Space – Jim McGuinn, PD of 89.3 The Current, and John Barth, Chief Content Officer at PRX, provided their perspectives digital media trends and challenges new platforms mean for noncommercial Triple A stations.

McGuinn may have had the best (and most obvious) quote at the NON-COMM:

“It used to be we just did radio. Then we had the website used to support the radio. And now it’s back and forth. It’s one of the fascinating aspects of the job I think.”

Here are highlights of the McGuinn and Barth discussion from The Key [link], WXPN's online music 'zine:

Barth says he loves seeing stations experiment with digital-exclusive content and podcasting. “They may not know what they’re doing, but they’re tying, and that’s the first step,” he says.

Content like podcats should be driven by three factors, Barth said: an original voice, original content, and the sense that “you can only get it here.” “Don’t do what everybody else is doing,” he said.

McGuinn said digital content doesn’t need to be complicated either. “The quick hit stuff on Facebook Live is what’s getting really fast traffic. It doesn’t take hours and hours of production time. People just want that thing they can get to right away, and we’re moving towards that production model.”

The challenge is figuring where to be, and when, and how, and trying to leverage that experience, he continued, and not discounting the human element. “The surprising elements of curation are things you won’t get in a Spotify playlist,” he said. “Ella Fitzgerald next to Arcade Fire. That’s something no algorithm is going to find. It comes down to whats between the records, the hosts.”

McGuinn also reflected on the evolving role of the programming director in public media; “I’m like brand manager of the overall thing, but we have a very robust digital team. We have meetings to check back and forth on the content, how we can support each other.”

Barth added that stations need to embrace incoming workforce of digital natives who are looking to work in radio; “Stations need to realize they’re a magnet for the next generation of talent,” he said. “That’s going to be your future, so you may as well embrace it. If we turn them off at that stage, they’re never coming back to public radio. And that is a big mistake.”

Read & Auerbach

 Attendees also praised Dan Reed’s NON-CONversation (a/k/a “interview”) with producer and front man for The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach. (Philadelphia music writer Dan Deluca also participated in the interview.)

Kendall Stewart from 106.1 The Corner in Charlottesville, Virginia wrote on his blog about the Auerback convo [link]:

They chatted a bout ‘Waiting on a Song,’ Auerbach’s new solo album dropping on June 2nd on his own label Easy Sound. Auerbach discussed Mark Knopfler who plays on a track from Auerbach’s new album. Auerbach said he has never met Knopfler. Auerbach also spoke extensively about producing albums for Lana Del Rey, The Pretenders, Dr. John, and Ray LaMontagne. Auerbach also recommends reading the new autobiography by NOLA legend Dr. John.

Ani DeFranco (images courtesy WXPN)

Ani DiFranco was next for me, and I truly have no words. Many of my friends are huge Ani fans, so it was an absolute pleasure to catch her live finally. 

I stumbled upon her record label in Buffalo last summer (drove by, saw a sign for an arts and crafts fair in the lower level of the church where her Righteous Babe label is located, and immediately pulled over). 

She’s powerful, classic, and I am really looking forward to her upcoming 19th (!!!) studio album, Binary (out on June 9th).

(images courtesy WXPN)

My evening ended with a performance by Blondie. Again, what can I even say? It’s Blondie! Their latest album, Pollinator, was just released and the band is just as great as they have always been. Debbie Harry came on stage with a strong message to us and the planet, along with a bee headband. 

If Debbie Harry can’t save us, who will? The band opened with “One Way or Another” and played fan favorites like “Call Me” and “Heart of Glass”. Off the new album, we heard “Fun” and a few others. Blondie will return on August 2nd with Garbage, at the Mann Center.

Opening night crowd at World Cafe Live (images courtesy WXPN)

In No Depression [link]
Sean Coakley, a promoter with Songlines Music, was attending his 17th non-COMM in a row. 

When I asked Coakley about his devotion, he explained, “because it's the best conference of the year. It combines amazing music from artists both new and well-known and an assortment of panels, interviews, and discussions that keep everyone on their toes. Mostly, it's a great way to spend time with people you work with and like in a really comfortable setting.”

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


The University of Alabama is typically known for its winning football team. However, public media folks know UA’s WUAL-FM is a gem that keeps on growing. WUAL may now be preparing to add a second signal that will allow Classical music to have a full-time voice.   

Best of all, perhaps you can be part of it.

WUAL has been a dual format station – NPR News and Classical music – for several decades. Recently UA paid $125,000 in cash to purchase FM translator W223BZ that covers Tuscaloosa at 92.5 FM. 

For now, WUAL plans to have 92.5 FM repeat the station’s main schedule.   

In the future, WUAL has the chance to split the two programming streams.

WUAL is the flagship of Alabama Public Radio (APR). APR repeaters and translators serve listeners in Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Selma, Florence and Mobile.

The new second signal could be big news for Alabama Classical music lovers. David Duff, APR’s Music Director, has been the primary host and guide for over two decades. Duff knows his stuff. He has a lifetime of involvement in Classical music broadcasting including six years as President of the Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio for (AMPPR).

The anticipated change will also benefit WUAL’s news effort. News Director Pat Duggins leads a five-person team of journalists and AU students who are multiple award winners. APR has won two National Sigma Delta Chi awards from SPJ, several Edward R. Murrow awards for overall excellence and is a multiple year winner of Alabama Associated Press’s Most Outstanding News Organization honor.


Jeff Deneen & APR Underwriting Team
APR is currently searching for an Assistant Director Membership, a new position. Jeff Deneen, Ph.D., APR’s
Director of Development and Marketing leads a soon-to-be five member team that is leading growth in sponsorship, membership and gifts. If you have questions, contact Deneen at 205-348-2687. You can read the job posting here.


If you want to see and hear the gutsiest station in Alabama, check out WJAB in Huntsville [link].  When you do, give thanks and praise for Hayward Handy, “the father of WJAB.”

Hayward Handy was the great nephew of the "Father of the Blues," W.C. Handy. When Hayward Handy died in September 2006, the 80-year-old gentleman was remembered for his love of music and radio. He won a two-decade struggle to put WJAB on the air in Huntsville and thousands of listeners thank him for his love and devotion everyday.

Hayward Handy taught science at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville. He founded A&M’s Telecommunications Center in 1991 and secured the FCC license for WJAB.

Joy Sidney

Today WJAB is a mix of professionals and students. Its powerful 100,000-watt signal carries a tasty blend of jazz and blues. 

The most popular show on WJAB is Coffee and Tea Monday – Friday from 6am to 9am, hosted by Joy Sidney. 

She mixes both cool and hot jazz with interviews and news.  

WJAB is the heartbeat of jazz and blues in Huntsville.